Operation Bot Roast


Operation Bot Roast

Ever since modems were first used to allow computers the ability to connect to each other, there have been people out there trying to ruin the experience for others, and for as long as there have been hackers, there have been crime units dedicated to stopping them. Recently, a major undertaking by the Federal Bureau of Investigation known as Operation Bot Roast was launched to thwart the presence of bot nets and the perceived national security threat that they pose. While the investigation is still ongoing, it has already resulted in many arrests and even some early convictions.

Operation Bot Roast was launched by the FBI in an attempt to break the spread of botnets. A botnet is created when a hacker spreads a particular virus to a computer and then that infected computer passes the same virus onto others. The hacker that started it all then has control of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of personal computers and even mainframes. The hacker, or botherder, can then use those computers to do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this can include things like the harvest of personal information, including credit card information, e-mail addresses, and banking information, and the further spreading of the bot net. For obvious reasons, the FBI saw this malicious act as a threat to the national security of the United States and even the world, and Operation Bot Roast was created.

Bot nets are formed when a bot herder sends out spam emails or other forms of communication to a series of computers. When users on those computers open up those email attachments, the viruses, spyware and malware embedded in them automatically install and begin to automatically send out new emails, using that person's email address book as a source. The infected computers are now known as zombie computers and are essentially under the control of the original botherder who sent out the original emails. The process repeats itself until the botnet is massive in size.

At the time that Operation Bot Roast started, the FBI investigative unit that is responsible for cyber-crime believes that over one million zombie computers around the world were infected. This presented a significant problem for the FBI and other American law enforcement agencies since they would need full and open cooperation with law enforcement agencies located in many other countries. The success of Operation Bot Roast to this point is directly linked to the willingness and helpfulness that the FBI has received from agencies in places like Russia, the UK and Germany.

In November of 2007, the FBI held a press conference in which they announced some of the first botherders that have been arrested and, in some instances, tried and convicted of Internet crimes. The eight names released were all residents of the United States, but the FBI said that more arrests and convictions are expected around the world as a direct result of Operation Bot Roast.

The question on the mind of most people right now is how can they avoid becoming a victim in the future. It is extremely difficult for jurisdictions to pass laws against cyber crime since the technology involved evolves faster than any law making body can pass laws to regulate it, and since almost all cyber crime passes over, under and through international boarders, the job of protection is often left up to the individual. Here are some pointers given by the FBI for how we can get ahead of the hackers.

First, if you haven't installed a firewall program on your computer, it is highly recommended that you do so. A firewall is a program that monitors your Internet connection and forbids outside connections from breaking through and taking control of your computer. Along with anti-spyware and anti-virus programs, they can also stop programs from automatically installing on your computer. Since firewalls weren't as necessary 10 years ago when most people had dial-up modems, many older computer users aren't familiar with how they work, but now that the majority of users in cities and in first world countries are using cable and DSL connections, firewalls are absolutely necessary to keeping your computer clean.

Second, a top flight anti-spyware and anti-virus program, run and updated at least once a week is an excellent sentinel against hacker invasion. Use an anti-spyware program that runs in the background and monitors every install that occurs on your machine. It will alert you if something tries to install without your knowledge. The anti-virus will also catch any malicious programs that try to run secretly in the background of your computer. Be sure to update and scan on a regular basis. If you use the internet on a regular basis, scanning once a week is a good idea. Together, along with your firewall, you will be prepared to defend your personal computer from even the most advanced hacker attack.

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